Most of us hope we will never be in a situation in which we have to use a gun to defend ourselves.
But the women in the Lady Be Aware course, put on by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, don’t want to leave their safety up to chance.
“Women in general should be prepared for whatever could happen to them, their children. We all have a mama lion in us,” said Becca of San Bernardino who attended the class in October.
In the second half of the hands-on course, women of all ages and levels of experience with firearms learn how to handle and shoot three kinds of weapons.
“They’re going to experience the recoil of the different types: a pistol, rifle and shotgun,” said Corporal Tim Jackson.
But, like most of the women in the course, Becca feels a little nervous around a gun. She signed up for the course because her husband works long hours, often late into the night.
“I’m home alone a lot and I have two girls, so I wanted to be prepared for what could potentially happen,” she said.
And that’s exactly the situation many of these women find themselves in: home alone and not knowing what to do if someone were to force their way in.
“It’s scary, for a mom, that’s the most helpless feeling ever,” said Misty Monroe, a mom from Apple Valley.
The last thing you want is for your first time with a weapon to be when your life depends on it.
“With a knife or with a gun, it’s something that can be taken away from you and used against you,” said Deputy Olivia Bozek. “So make sure if you have something like that, that you’re training and you’re preparing with it.”
There are three things you need to remember when shooting.
1. Lower your center of gravity for a steady stance and lean in on your front foot.
2. Never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.
3. Remember to breathe so that you don’t tense up before shooting.
“Very intense, very possible. Like I could protect myself,” said Stephanie Ripple of Highland when we asked about the experience of shooting the weapon for the first time.
“It’s really empowering to know that if you had to use something, that you could and you’d do it well,” Becca said.
The course isn’t about turning the women into excellent marksmen. In fact, in a high stress situation like a home invasion, when your adrenaline is pumping, the greatest challenge is staying calm enough to remember the basics.
“Before this class? I would have froze and I would have been useless. I would have been the classic case,” Monroe said.
But when you develop the confidence to bite the bullet and take control of the situation around you, you can defend yourself and your loved ones from harm.
“You’re taking care of yourself, you’re taking care of your family and you’re making sure you’re going to be OK,” Bozek said.